Today’s Song Tip Tuesday is another common question I get from songwriters. Do I need a lead sheet for my song?
The answer is no. But if you don’t have one, you might be the only person who can sing your song. If you want to have other vocalists sing it, then I suggest creating a lead sheet. This means you have to write out what you hear onto music manuscript paper. Write music, use a pencil! Oh no!!! Don’t fret, thanks to advancements in music software, your lead sheet problem is solved. Most basic music software programs, like Garageband, have notation features built into them.
Music notation software works like this. You input each note into the program either through your computer keyboard or a midi keyboard. The music software transforms your inputted notes into readable music. Your ear will guide you to whether you are inputting the right note or not. You will also be able to add lyrics and input chords. A byproduct of this process is you will be teaching yourself notation, the language of music, how to read and write what you hear. Cool!
A wonderful benefit from creating a lead sheet is that you can really define your melody. If you’re like me, who writes a lot of music, creating a lead sheet becomes my backup to recall exactly what I heard when I first wrote the song. Years later, one tends to forget certain nuances of melodies, like the direction of a pickup note or the exact rhythm of a melodic phrase.
Another lead sheet solution is finding a musician who knows notation to help assist with your lead sheet. There may be a nominal fee for this service.
Music may seem like it is difficult to learn to read and write. Music notation software will make it way easier than you might think. You match the sound of the note you are hearing to where it is placed on the staff. Good news is there are only 12 notes that repeat in different octaves.
I highly suggest making ‘writing a lead sheet part’ of your songwriting process.
The art of writing is rewriting.